Cane Prairie Fire & Katsuk Butte

May 12, 1979

Lois Schreiner was kind enough to meet the group and drive all seven to the Burwell house above Leaburg, thus saving the leader a deadhead trip to town and back, twice. After a second cup of coffee in the sun, we left with Lois’s extra bodies in Rosboro’s pickup. At the head of Cane Creek we stopped to discuss the origin of the fire (Slash burning controlled four days earlier fanned to life and blown 100 yards into timber by a 50 MPH freak wind) & legal aspects ($75,000 costs); also, hopelessness of retardant bombers and helicopter buckets in high winds; crowning fire effects from ground fire. Next stop, examination of burned surface (wet soil prevented soil damage) and planting problems (wind desiccation while ground was frozen). Also, trees with green crowns but fire girdled at base by ground fire. Lunch on rock bluff overlooking fire salvage cutting. Examined crownfire area (crowns were dried out by ground fire heat). Resinous gasses flared above trees leaving dried out needles on branches—now fallen from winter storms. Trees killed by heat but undamaged otherwise. Discussed rehabilitation by wind blown seeds, fireweed, thistles, dandelions, etc; sprouting from roots: rhododendron, huckleberries, Oregon grape, etc; and fire germinated seeds—ceanothus. Nature’s cycle of renewing forests is not just one fire, but a series of fires as the killed, standing trees attract insects, and decay and blow down. Later fires do soil damage due to lack of shade and heavier ground debris. Interrupted succession cycles with each fire for ±50 years (until snags burn or rot to a height where re-growth firs overtop before next fire). Last, climbed Katsuk Butte for grand view of mountains and 200' hopscotch game. Back to Burwells’, where Lois crammed seven tired bodies into her car with a ¼ ton of rocks and headed for town. Sure hope they make it! (We did) Crowded into one car were John and Pete Cecil, Emmy Dale, Jane Hackett, Vern Nelson, Merle Traudt and Lois Schreiner. Leader was Dave Burwell.


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